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Who's Zooming Who?
A colleague I respect said to me today: "You are not at the whim of your devices/tech - it is at your command." She was right, of course, but perhaps a little short-sighted.
Tech increasingly has the capability to anticipate our wants and needs and I think it's foolish to ignore that capability. A simple example is e-mail. We no longer have to press send/receive to get our e-mail delivered to us. While we may well want to turn off the notifications that interrupt us, it seems more efficient to have the e-mail already in our Inbox when we turn our attention there.
A more complex example? When I get home I want my smartphone to automatically connect to my home wireless network so that any data transfer uses the WiFi instead of the carrier network where I might incur extra charges. My phone already knows I'm home - it has GPS built in.
An even more complex example? I like my smartphone to detect that I'm in the car and automatically engage my GPS navigation app. I like it to detect when I'm out of range of my home WiFi and turn the WiFi radio off to save battery. Or...when it's plugged in on A/C power I'd like to disable the screen save capability. I'll turn the screen off when I want to, but if I turn it on, I'd like it to stay on if the phone is plugged into external power.
Fortunately we have tools now that can do that. On the Android platform Tasker lets me do pretty much all of those things. On the PC an increasing number of scripting tools can be aware of what I'm doing and suggest (or just do) the logical next steps for me. On the navigation side Waze promises to learn your favorite routes so that when you tell it you want to navigate back home it can prioritize the routes you like to take, rather than insisting you take the ugly drive past the warehouses that you never do. Car companies like Ford are catching onto this with increasing in-car tech to try and make your drive more pleasant and efficient.
I'd LOVE it if Microsoft Word would detect that I've just typed and printed a letter and have an option that would automatically print an envelope for me. I know I can do that already with a couple of mouse clicks but I think it would be cool to turn on a little AI that when I printed my letter it would pop up a little window with a preview of the printed envelope and ask if it was o.k. to go ahead and print it.
Tech SHOULD be at our command, yes, but we shouldn't have to issue every individual command every single time. I want my tech to obey, but I also want it to learn. Thankfully we're steadily making progress on those capabilities.